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Greece and Egypt call Turkish-Libyan gas deal ‘illegal’

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Egypt and Greece said Sunday that an agreement allowing Turkey to explore hydrocarbon deposits in Libyan waters in the Mediterranean was “illegal” and that Athens would oppose it by all “legal means,” Agence France-Presse reported.

On Monday, Turkey said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with authorities in Tripoli on the exploration of hydrocarbons in Libyan waters.

“This agreement threatens stability and security in the Mediterranean,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in Cairo, where he met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

The agreement follows one Turkey signed with Tripoli three years ago that established the two countries’ shared maritime borders.

Greece, Egypt and Cyprus believe the 2019 agreement violates their economic rights in an area where large natural gas deposits are believed to exist.

“We will use all legal means to defend our rights,” Dendias added.

He said Tripoli “does not have the necessary sovereignty over this area” and that the agreement is, therefore “illegal and inadmissible.”

Shoukry claimed that the mandate of the authorities in Tripoli has “expired” and that “the government of Tripoli does not have the legitimacy to sign agreements.”

A rival Libyan administration in the east of the war-torn country, which has been trying to take office in Tripoli since March and also claims the government’s mandate has expired, has rejected the agreement.

Monday’s agreement builds on one signed by Ankara and a previous government in Tripoli in 2019 at the height of the battle for the capital after eastern-based military chief Khalifa Haftar tried to take it by force.

The delivery of Turkish drones to troops in Tripoli shortly afterward was seen as crucial to defeating Haftar, who was backed at the time by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The issue of rights to Libya’s vast hydrocarbon reserves has gained urgency this year as energy prices have skyrocketed around the world.

The European Union has condemned the 2019 maritime border agreement, while France said the latest deal was “not in accordance with international law.”

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